Finding a Sustainable Life – Part 2: Subtraction

I experienced a lot of ups and downs during the summer. There were times of play, laughter and ease. There were also times of loneliness, wondering where God was and what the purpose of my life was. As I hung up that sign and got into my boat with my fishing pole, I shoved off from meetings, interviews, emails, gatherings where I lead, conversations that are insightful and my writing desk. I disconnected. It was a time of letting go of many of the things that give purpose and meaning in my life. I became Anne, simply Anne. At times it felt very empty and I wondered what the purpose of life was. Is this what retirement feels like? There was no reason to get out of bed, or move off the deck, or stop walking. Most days were open-ended with nothing in my calendar.

When Jesus speaks about giving up our possessions and following him I usually have thought in terms of my home and bank account. This summer I realized that I’m possessed by far more than my home and bank account. I’m very consumed by what I do, by work responsibilities and opportunities. Many of my possessions are emails, meetings, interviews, conversations, groups, preaching, teaching, writings etc. My ego is strongly attached to those activities. To a significant degree I have gotten my sense of worth from them. When I hang ‘Gone Fishing’ and disconnect, I’m giving my ‘possessions’ to Jesus. I’m letting go of them.

“God is not found in the soul by any kind of addition, but by a process of subtraction.” Meister Eckhart


My open-ended summer had the effect on me of going on a weeklong silent retreat, yet I wasn’t alone and it wasn’t silent! I was with part of my family, even the noisy part for three grandchildren were with us for several weeks, but I was separate from much that labels me and inspires me. By the time the month came to an end I realized that, despite the noise around me, my soul had been quieted. I had disconnected from what stirs up my soul. I was free to find my worth separate from activities and responsibilities that could possess me.

Eventually, out of the nothingness, a connection with God began to emerge, but not without many days on unknowning, of being lost, of looking, of wondering.

Subtract almost everything from a full life and what do you find?

What labels or inspires you? Imagine subtracting that from your life.

A Sustainable Life requires subtraction.

Love and prayers on the journey


Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada


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